A blob of concentrated sunshine and joy in a glass – when I look at the marmalade that I made a couple of months ago I marvel at the intense orange, how it glows. When it sits at the bottom of a G&T my favourite drink is enriched with the rich citrusy sweetness that is verging onto the point of caramel, melding perfectly with the sharpness of tonic water, the herbal hit of the gin. But mostly I am amazed that my first attempt at jam making resulted in this culinary miracle.
I made marmalade after a weekend away to Rutherglen. Staying with friends in Wahgunyah, nursing both a hideous cold and bruised and battered psyche I spent a lot of time in the backyard, standing at the fire, talking. The owner of the house was a returned serviceman, a veteran of the Vietnam war. I always feel comfortable talking to war veterans, no idea why, I just always have. For me it was cathartic to talk about life, the history of the house, the street, the gnarled roots that he had fashioned into a functional table, anything to distract me from the maelstrom of black so slowly lifting from my mind. His gift to me as I left was a massive bag of oranges off the tree in the front yard. So the great marmalade adventure began.
The marmalade found many homes, just as the boys and I couldn’t eat kilos of fresh oranges, we couldn’t eat our way through kilos of jam either. Jars went to my best friend and her mum and brother who both happened to be visiting Melbourne. A big jar went to the friends who took me to Wahgunyah. Jars big and small went to many houses. I would occasionally get a random text message from someone who had just opened a jar to to tell me that the marmalade was yum. That feedback was as rewarding as the creating of jam to start with.
Last night, talking this over with a friend, he said to me “You spread joy JoJo”. I’ve never really thought about it. Now that I have, I love the concept. I also love the picture that I put at the top of this post, and I apologise for it being pretty girly, but that’s me in a nutshell, I’m all about the pretty girl stuff. I also believe that if you have a lovely day, then those around you will have one too, They don’t have to wear makeup and perfume, but I hope that when I follow the rules above, the people around me smile, they feel valued because someone has listened to them, they start to have a lovely day because someone wished them a lovely day.
But life can’t be all perfume and jars of jam. In the last week or so Jeremy and I have spent a lot of time talking about relationships and love. We talked about holding on and letting go. We talked about not holding on to something that causes us pain. Some of the conversations that he and I have had together and with others this week have been hard. They have been open and honest ones but fearful because we said things that the other people may not have been ready to hear. Those conversations are risky too, but we both believe that to be authentic we need to be honest.
In one beautiful conversation Jeremy opened up and shared his thoughts on love. He said that he believed that true love does not mean that you mirror each other, but that you understand each others differences and still want to hang out and talk to each other about your experiences. It echoed some advice my dad gave me once, quoting from Khalil Gibran
“But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls”
I also thought “wow!! You are going to have a phenomenal adulthood if you have this together at 18.” So I think that J has hit this particular nail on the head. He already understands that to be successful in a relationship he needs time to pursue his own interests, to be a good partner he has to achieve some self definition, some internal peace. You cannot share yourself if you don’t understand yourself.
I also suspect, that someday this kid will rule the world in his own way.